Thursday, September 2, 2021

Against Wisdom, Part 7: Brass Balls

Does not Wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? She stands in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She cries at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of man. O you simple, understand Wisdom; and you fools, be of an understanding heart.

—Proverbs 1:34 RE



Note: The prior parts of this series provide vital background necessary to understand this part. If you have not red the prior parts already, I highly recommend you do so before reading this installment.



Now that we’ve traced the development of our scriptures, from Adam through the Book of Mormon, it’s time to take a closer look at the developments since the Book of Mormon was published. There’s a lot to consider, and an endpoint to reach, so I’ll just hit a few highlights.

  • Joseph Smith received a number of revelations concurrent with the ongoing restoration of the gospel. Many of those revelations were edited, changed, expanded, or otherwise tampered with before they were published.
  • The Book of Mormon was largely ignored, resulting in the LDS church being condemned by the Lord.
  • Joseph Smith labored to produce a corrected version of the Bible, with important truths restored. It was never published in its fulness until now.
  • After Joseph’s death, Brigham Young produced a “revelation” that authorized and promoted polygamy. He falsely claimed it came from Joseph.
  • The Book of Mormon underwent a number of iterations, including edits and alterations over the years.
  • The Lectures on Faith, which formed the “Doctrine” backbone of the Doctrine and Covenants were arbitrarily removed from the canon by a committee without authority.

It’s clear from all of the above, that despite the flood of light and truth that entered the world through Joseph Smith, people did to scripture what people *always* do to scripture. They tampered with it, altered it, attempted to “improve” it, and otherwise messed it up. The universal truth to discover is this: The word of God is almost NEVER safe in the hands of mortals. God entrusts scripture to those who have been in his presence and gotten their directions and revelations directly from him. All others, regardless of good intentions, produce disaster and destruction.


More than 170 years after Joseph died, the required number of generations had passed, and the Lord began efforts again to complete the unfinished restoration. He inspired a number of individuals to attempt a recovery effort—sifting through the tattered remnants of scripture and attempting to reclaim whatever could reliably be attributed to Joseph Smith, while removing that which could not. Due to the neglect of prior generations, immense effort was required to reclaim what could be reclaimed, restored and corrected. 


And the heavens took notice. 


It is SO incredibly rare that mortals on earth care enough about scripture to undertake a recovery effort, and do so under the direction of a bona-fide member of the Holy Order, that the instances of this ever happening can be counted on one hand. 


Though the effort received the best work and tireless attention of the laborers involved, they were still mortal and could only go so far. And yet, the Lord accepted the effort—not because it was perfect, but because it was undertaken with care and pure intent. At last there were a people on earth again who valued God’s word!


Ultimately the project was presented to the Lord for his approval, along with an admission that the effort was inadequate. The request was made for the Lord to add what was missing, remove what didn’t belong, or correct what was inaccurate. The Lord did these things, and pronounced, “The work that has been done is acceptable and sufficient for the labor now underway.” The Lord also cautioned, “you do not understand the glory to be revealed unto my covenant people.” (T&C 177:1)


The Lord then proceeded to take ownership of the scriptures he had approved:

These scriptures are sent forth to be my warning to the world, my comfort to the faithful, my counsel to the meek, my reproof to the proud, my rebuke to the contentious, and my condemnation of the wicked. They are my invitation to all mankind to flee from corruption, repent and be baptized in my name, and prepare for the coming judgment. (T&C 177:3)

For those keeping score at home, that’s a seven-fold ownership claim as the Lord made clear. These are NOT “our” scriptures. They are his. 


The Lord went further and offered a covenant to those who would agree to “receive the scriptures approved by the Lord as a standard to govern you in your daily walk in life, to accept the obligations established by the Book of Mormon as a covenant, and to use the scriptures to correct yourselves and to guide your words, thoughts, and deeds[.]” (T&C 158:3)


This is an astonishing development, and one that should not escape our notice. It was the careful treatment of scripture by mortals that inclined the Lord to offer his covenant, and that covenant is utterly dependent upon, and tied to, the scriptures he approved. Such an event is an immense blessing and mercy on his part, and we ought to be humbled to the dust by his generosity. When we consider that the Lord is, even now, condescending to speak to us and deal with us through a covenant, we should resolve to be far more humble, obedient, and careful than prior generations who tarnished the brightness of scripture and incurred the Lord’s wrath.


After the Lord had provided his changes to the scriptures, accepted them, and claimed them as his own, some good-hearted people with the best of intentions began promoting the idea that we could, and should, improve the Lord’s scriptures by voting to canonize various and sundry items we found appealing. Oddly, much of what was suggested for canonization consisted of items that already existed when the Lord made additions to the canon himself, pronounced the scriptures acceptable, and claimed them as his own. In other words, he had every opportunity to add the suggested items, and he declined to do so. Do we know better than the Lord what ought to be added? I don’t think so.


I honestly don’t blame anyone for seeking to “improve” the scriptures. After all, during the recovery portion of the effort, the body of believers was given opportunity to submit and vote on additions. But that phase of the project has passed. At that time it was “our” project. Now it is his. I don’t believe we have the right to change his scriptures by our vote. If there’s somewhere that Wisdom delegated the responsibility for scriptural changes to the body of believers, I’m not aware of it. Everything I can find in scripture testifies that God takes responsibility for scripture, and mankind suffers overwhelming temptation to tamper with God’s efforts.


How is this not taking his name in vain? How does this not violate the 1st, 2nd and 3rd commandments? Who’s word is scripture? Who is responsible for creating, transmitting and guarding the holy canon? (See part 6). What makes scripture, scripture? Why do we think we have any right to add to or take away from his word for which he has vouched, and which he has claimed as his own? If we alter his scriptures, are they “his” anymore? Since the covenant requires dependence on scripture, if we alter scripture, have we altered the covenant? And by doing so have we changed the ordinance? And does that ever end well? 


The purpose of this series has been to juxtapose God’s marvelous power to provide scripture with Satan’s constant attempts to meddle with scripture. If we are to err, I suggest we err on the side of leaving the scriptures in God’s hands, not our own.


Open Canon


Of course, we expect more light and truth to pour forth from heaven. The canon is most assuredly open. Many have considered that we should therefore develop a “mechanism” by which we can, as a people, “canonize” new scripture. I would offer a couple of questions and suggestions in this regard.


Can we think of a time when the canon was not “open?” In other words has there ever been a point at which the Lord was NOT in Wisdom capable of adding to scripture? 


And if the canon has always been “open” in the Lord’s eyes, is our situation so unique that we need to have a method in place of canonizing what he chooses to add? Is his choice to add it enough, or does he require our permission?


Given mankind’s irresistible urge to tamper with scripture, might such a mechanism, if implemented, be just as likely put to poor use as good? Could such a mechanism be co-opted to appease the demands of the froward, forceful, or discontent? Would it tempt pretenders to present phony revelations for canonization? There is great precedent for all of the above.

Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen, and why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson — that the rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the Powers of Heaven and that the Powers of Heaven cannot be controlled nor handled, only upon the principles of righteousness…We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. (T&C 139:5)

Notice a couple of things in the above. First, “Priesthood” has a capital P. This means something significant, having to do with the Holy Order and who stands at the head of the human family. Second, the nature and disposition of all men, who have “a little authority” as they suppose, is to exercise dominion in UNrighteousness. Yet the Powers of Heaven can only be controlled or handled upon the principles of righteousness. The upshot is that if we think we have a little authority over the scriptures, we are sure to mess them up. The rights of the Priesthood (capital P) are best left to the Priesthood (capital P). (Please don't take that prior statement as a sexist endorsement of male priesthood. The Holy Order in this form requires a man and a woman.)


Is it our responsibility to EVER offer up our suggestions or preferences for how the Lord might “improve” his scriptures? In my opinion, the Lord is perfectly capable of adding what is needed, and is FAR better informed about the subject than we can hope to be. We have millennia of history to teach us this lesson, and if we fail to learn it, the error is our own. We may find ourselves kicking against the pricks, persecuting the saints and fighting against God. 


The Gods have shown themselves willing and able to add to scripture—even quite recently. If something needs to be added to the official canon, I believe they will tell us through the Holy Order, just as they have always done, rather than by us telling them what to do. Do we want God to rule over us, or do we expect the religion of the Fathers will be a democracy where we can impose our will on God by taking a vote? 


Wisdom Text


There’s one other item I must mention, and I hope to tread lightly and not give offense. This series is meant to teach, not offend. 


At one point, there was an effort—born of good intent, to be sure—to canonize certain portions of a talk that were attributed to Heavenly Mother. Some took to calling the passages, “The Wisdom Text,” taking her name and appending it to the effort. The desire to “honor” Heavenly Mother was expressed as justification for taking this step. In light of what we’ve discussed in this series, I would ask, can we EVER honor Heavenly Mother by tampering with her scriptures? Is our wisdom greater than hers? Do we honor her by attempting to usurp her as the weaver and giver of scripture? Is it wisdom in God that we do this, or is it supposed wisdom in ourselves?


Perhaps we should consider the warning given elsewhere in that same talk: 

If you welcome this discussion, then take care that you do not, as ancient Israel did, burn incense, pour out drink offerings, and bake cakes to a Being who has never invited you to do so. She has invited you to worship God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. If you would like to honor Her, then accept Her testimony and look to Jesus Christ alone for redemption and salvation. (Denver Snuffer, “Our Divine Parents,” p 36)

If we would make an offering to her, it ought to be a broken heart, a contrite spirit, faith in her son, and strict obedience to his word.


I hope the things I’ve written here will give us all cause to reconsider whether it is wise that we undertake efforts to add to scripture, or create a mechanism to do so. Perhaps we are better served by getting on with the business of governing our lives by the scriptures our Divine Parents have given us, rather than trying to convince them to give us more, or suggesting what they ought to add.


Brass Balls


It’s truly a miracle that we have the canon we do, and that it resulted in the Lord condescending to offer us a covenant. It is a sign that God yet speaks, is finishing his work, and has a people he is working with and putting on display for the world to see. 


Signs of God’s direct involvement and direction attend every exodus he directs to any promised land. These signs include the miraculous, like a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night, correct records like the Plates of Brass, precious metals like gold, animal skins to make sacred space, and sacred relics, like the Urim and Thummim, the brass serpent, Aaron’s rod and Moses’s staff. 


The exodus from the Garden of Eden, though little spoken of in scripture, contained the same elements. 


Lehi’s exodus likewise enjoyed such signs, including the pillar of fire, Laban’s sword and armor, gold and silver, sacred records and a curious brass ball called the Liahona that took the place of the Urim and Thummim, providing direction, revelation, and evidence of God’s presence.


The fullness of the record will no doubt also demonstrate Nephi’s exodus, Mosiah’s exodus and others all followed this pattern. The pattern always holds, though it is adapted to the time, place and circumstances of each covenant group.


As a covenant people, we can expect to participate in an exodus pattern at some point as well. But there will be something unique and unparalleled in all history concerning this final exodus to a city of holiness. Rather than a single set of sacred relics held by the leader on behalf of the whole group, we can instead each have our own. No, I don’t expect we will each have a Liahona. Rather, each of us can carry our own miraculous sacred relics in our own hands, covered in animal skins, adorned in gold, produced by curious workmanship, capable of giving us each direction and revelation, providing clear evidence of God’s presence with us. Such has never happened before in the history of this creation! We don’t need brass balls. We need the scriptures!


They are a sign.

They are a wonder. 


They are sacred relics.


They are marvelous indeed.


May we ever guard them as such.






The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.
—Proverbs 4:112 RE

23 comments:

  1. Is there widespread appetite to add more things to the RE scriptures? I wouldn't have guessed as much.

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    1. I wouldn't say "widespread." But there are efforts underway, yes.

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    3. @Openmind. I gather you’re referring to things from the past which felt hurtful, forced or unpersuasive and that rather than equality you see totem poles of seniority among people.

      I’m sorry. I hope there can be better things to come.

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  2. These new scriptures truly are remarkable. I fear to offend God by asking for more (on a large scale) at this point. We have a nearly untouched feast before us, waiting to be devoured.

    These new scriptures are not the same books we had before. I knew the old scriptures well, and feel like I'm in a new and more glorious world when I read the new ones.

    These really can make us wise unto salvation. It would be foolish not to look because of the easiness of the way.

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  3. I didn't see any mocking by Adrian. Such a personal attack is, however, often used successfully to distract from the main point(s). Can I persuade Open Mind to address the main point(s) instead?

    Adrian's main point was the scriptures were approved. God approved them. He said they were adequate. His words were:

    “The work that has been done is acceptable and sufficient for the labor now underway.”

    That means the scriptures at that point in time met His approval, or that "it was wisdom in God" to pronounce the scriptures were sufficient.

    Additionally, in light of this entire series just written by Adrian that painstakingly addresses the actual Satan-inspired threats to the approved record we now gloriously have, wouldn't we be well advised to view with extreme caution any attempts to change the scriptures?!! Such manmade changes— are the VERY THING that leads to condemnation and apostasy.

    We should ponder and beware of the spirit of one who boldly claimed God's plan of salvation was insufficient and that it needed to be improved, and that he (Lucifer) would boldly step up and save everyone, that not one soul would be lost.

    We must avoid that proud spirit or any similar spirit disguised in altruism or safety. For the good and safety of the people is the one-trick pony Satan trots our through his minion - the state - and which we see utilized on a worldwide basis at this very moment in world history, and the very same tactic should be expected to be employed in an incipient Zion.

    Such a tactic invariably involves priestcraft and an elitist mindset that "surely...leadeth into captivity," as Alma, King Mosiah, and the Brother of Jared warned us of in the BoM.

    Furthermore, there is a warning Alma gave about trying to do too much, which has application here. We should check ourselves that we do not...

    "in in [our wishes]; for [we] ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto [us]."

    I believe that the Lord has allotted unto us a great gift of approved Scripture and it's dangerous to counsel the Lord. The scriptures warn of that as well.

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    2. Open Mind,

      You jumped to the false conclusion that I was referring to you. None of what I said referred to you or anybody. I was speaking of what to be alert for. Obviously Satan is going to do his best and is doing his best to disrupt progress towards Zion.

      I did however inquire of you about where you saw mocking taking place in this post.

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  4. Where can we see and help those in dire need on the covenant chat?

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  5. Lest we forget. Not that we are unaware of the ramifications when we consider a mechanism for canonization of new scripture, but this recent experience just made me more aware of potential dangers.

    In preparing for a lesson that I will be conducting within my LDS ward this week, I noticed a paragraph in T&C 105 that has been deleted from the D&C.

    In D&C 104:54 we read:
    "And again, a commandment I give unto you concerning your stewardship which I have appointed unto you."

    But before He gives this commandment, God reminds them that all the properties mentioned in this section are His and those to whom he is addressing are steward of His properties "or else your faith is vain, and ye are found hypocrites, and the covenants which ye have made unto me are broken;" (verse 55-56) In other words, they stand to fall under the same curse as those mentioned earlier in verse 4.
    Then God reminds them of a commandment given earlier (in D&C 94:10) "to organize yourselves, even to print my words, the fulness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you".

    After all this, God finally gives the commandment he said he was going to give in verse 54:
    "Therefore, a commandment I give unto you that you shall take the Books of Mormon and also the copyright, and also the copyright which shall be secured of the Articles and Covenants, in which covenants all my commandments which it is my will should be printed shall be printed, as it shall be made known unto you, and also the copyright to the New Translation of the scriptures. And this I say that others may not take the blessings away from you which I have conferred upon you."

    Unfortunately, we can't read this commandment in our current D&C because it has been removed. It appears to have been removed by the publishing committee of the 1835 publication of Doctrine and Covenants because it is not found there either.

    I find it astonishing that right after the Lord announces he is about to give a commandment (one that turns out to be a commandment containing God's will to have Books of Mormon, Articles and Covenants, and New Translation printed), and then reminds them before this commandment is given of an earlier commandment to organize and print His words, that this actual commandment is removed. This right under the threat that if they do not live up to their stewardship, "the covenants which ye have made unto me are broken."

    I'm simply amazed at the audacity it would take to change anything that came from God, let alone dare to remove a commandment He had given.

    This is only one of many examples I'm sure we are aware of that have come to light in our restoration scripture effort. I'm filled with gratitude to have what we have and in addition, what a great blessing to know that what we have is approved of the Lord. God bless us to keep our covenant.

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    2. I don't think anyone entertains the false notion that our scriptures are "perfect." As you aptly point out, the Lord has made clear they are acceptable for his purposes, but still lacking in many ways. Though we hope for an even better, more accurate and more complete canon, we need to let the Lord be in charge of what is changed or added, rather than taking matters into our own hands.

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    3. "That's a great Scripture to use to go attack someone because they're not giving the way you think they ought to give, and you think that they have more to give. So, now I've got a Scripture, and I can use it like a club to justify my criticism of someone else." - Denver Snuffer, Equality, Challis, ID

      OpenMind, have you read this talk yet? What are your thoughts on it.

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    6. I think the body of fellowships are trying to do their best to both 1) care for the poor among them and 2) also have funds allocated for the future temple that God can come and restore what we lack. Both are important and God is directing each of us individually in both areas.

      My view is that "CovenantChat" is not a fellowship. I have no idea if any of the people posting requests for financial assistance belong to one - where requests like these might be better managed. If they don't belong to one, are they not aware of Fellowship Locator? I've know many people over the years who have used it and are now part of either a local or online community depending on proximity.

      I honestly don't know what else to say other than good luck in your endeavors. I believe you have a good heart and mean well. Take care.

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  6. I'm deeply grateful for the condescension of our Lord to labor along side us and for the efforts of all those who sacrificed to make the new scriptures a reality. The Lord could not have been more clear about what He thinks of the new scriptures, their seven fold purpose, or the ongoing criticisms of them.

    "These scriptures are sent forth to be my warning to the world, my comfort to the faithful, my counsel to the meek, my reproof to the proud, my rebuke to the contentious, and my condemnation of the wicked. They are my invitation to all mankind to flee from corruption, repent and be baptized in my name, and prepare for the coming judgment.

    False witnesses will be exposed, and the imaginings of the wicked heart will prove a curse unto them. A corrupt and foolish world will be brought to harvest, while the faithful who receive my words, obey my voice, covenant with me, and abide my law shall be preserved. I come as a thief in the night, and none can stay my coming.

    I ordained this work and labored beside you. No man should condemn these words, or see the weakness of my laborers when I judge their hearts. All their weakness, foolishness and vanity are before me, and none of it is hidden to me. To vindicate the promises I made to the fathers, I will bear patiently with all of you for my name’s sake. If I accept their work despite their weaknesses, that I may fulfill my promises to gather my people under my wings, then stop murmuring and complaining against those who labor. If you expect mercy, then show mercy to others. I, your Lord, am pleased with all those who are grateful and merciful and who will have me be their God. I am meek and lowly of heart."

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  7. Thanks, Adrian

    You have answered the question for my about the "Divine Parents" canonization and I am satisfied as to how that all turned out at this point.

    What I'm still unclear about is the future. I think we ought to give a little grace to those that continue to wrestle with the question of how to canonize new scripture or how to move forward on other important decisions that affect the body. You have done a superb job historically at showing that a patriarch with the Holy Order kept and maintained scripture. But we had a different process in 2017. Denver did not fix errors and produce the new scripture himself, reworking them as earlier prophets did and then presenting it as a product of the Lord's word to his people. We were required to include a Statement of Principles through mutual agreement as a body of equals before the Lord. The scripture committee was likewise a group of equals who wrestled with the hard questions of what to include and what not to include. This was a democratic/revelatory process that was initiated by those who felt "called to the work." That itself was the miracle and the fruit that seems to bear witness of this movement. Denver Snuffer was able to ratify God's blessing on that effort, and because we all, as equals, accepted that answer, made it efficacious upon us.

    What I have considered is that the Religion of the Fathers includes a Father who leads with a light touch, that efforts and decisions and processes may be preferred to be conducted through mutual agreement, that this was not a one-off process, but one that is reactionary/innovative to the original faith of Adam as a practice round. Thus, as we move forward to accept new scripture, I would be surprised if it must come exclusively through a dispensation head holding that Holy Order Priesthood. In fact, I view it more from the fact that Priesthood is holding open the door of heaven and encouraging through patience and longsuffering, a people learning as a body to get the Voice of Heaven themselves and then to proceed through mutual agreement of a "vote" that corresponds to revelation. I'm open to being wrong. This may have been a one-off event, and the Lord can certainly move to establish a process with a Father who has exclusivity over the work, as He has done in the past. But I suspect if that's the case, the Father who holds those keys will make it known and then we can respond as accepting that role as a body of believers. Until then, it seems that are to proceed to make important decisions that affect the body through mutual agreement, including scripture canonization.

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